You graduate college and all you need is to get your foot into the door. Move up the ladder, make as much money as you can and work very hard until retirement.
We landed where we were given an opportunity and most times it wasn’t the dream job. You were forced to play a reactive hand and made the most of it for many years to come. Circumstance and timing chose you and now you do whatever you can to prove yourself, like it or not.
We went through the motions of growing up and did what we thought we were supposed to do for our family and societal expectations.
This would eventually translate into 90,360 hours of your lifetime – that’s ~25-30 years That’s not including overtime nor traveling or commuting. Your livelihood will be the biggest life expense you’ll ever make.
I often meet with Corporate Kool-Aids (getting that corporate job as part of the White Picket Fence plan) who realize they’re in a long term corporate cell. Their work load is overwhelming, their health unsatisfactory, and their personal time is non-existent. They are expected to always say yes to more work regardless of the additional stress. Work life balance is not fully accepted and they can feel their lives chiseling away.
I recently listened to the Ted Talk Hour’s the Meaning of Work. Margaret Heffernan’s piece, Is the Professional Pecking Order Doing More Harm Than Good? is so simplistically self-explanatory –
Heffernan talks about an experiment with chickens led by Purdue that she often tells CEOs. They collected one flock that was generally productive (eggs) and left them alone to “let chickens do what chickens do”. Then, they hand selected a separate set that were, individually, most productive. With every generation, they continued to carefully add the most productive chickens to the second flock.
After six generations, they compared the average good’ol worker flock with the super flock. The results were surprising, but maybe not –
“The average flock were doing very well. They were very plump, healthy and fully feathered and were more productive than ever.
The super flock – all but three were dead. The rest had pecked each other to death.”
This Super Flock, as with the life of Corporate Kool-Aids, come with a price. Your passions, your community and your health ultimately get compromised. Your feathers are frayed as you’re watching over your back with the one goal to win, really, survive because you can’t trust anyone.
Surprisingly, after all that, not many try to get out. We just complain and accept it as a way of life. We make up more excuses to stay than to leave.
If your cost of living (1), your fear (2), your guilt (3), and your lack of a prepared transition plan (4) are the top four reasons (or walls) why you won’t leave, then I congratulate you –
You have your very own Corporate Cell.
Windows removed as a bonus.
Windows are created to let light in and out. They’re meant to allow you to view beyond (your) walls. Peer out and consider your possibilities beyond today. If you’re spending so many thousands of hours of your lifetime working, wouldn’t it make sense to stop, and ask yourself, “is this where I really want to be?”
If you think dusting off the resume is the first step, you’re right. It’s the first step in going right back into what you’re trying to get out of.
Making a jump is terrifying, but hop skipping here and there isn’t. Start by thinking and listening to yourself. What is it that you need and want. This could be an easy or an alternative fix, not hard unless you see it that way.
Do you want the same job with less hours to spend more time with family? Do you need to travel less to grow your community at home? Do you need a different type of working culture? Do you want to help people in a live setting than sitting behind a desk? Do you want to be more hands-on?
If you have no idea what, that is telling in of itself. Start by jotting down what you do and don’t want that would make up your ideal work life.
Stop drinking the Kool-Aid, get some water, refresh your mind and look for a window.
Life doesn’t get interesting on its own.
Ps. Even Corporate Kool-Aids need a Plan B.